Paralympian Jessica Long Uses Platform to Share Testimony

Photo from Jessica Long’s Instagram

Paralympian Jessica Long Uses Platform to Share Testimony

By Movieguide® Contributor

Sixteen-time paralympic gold medal swimmer Jessica Long relied on God to overcome her disability and recently shared her story through a new children’s book, “The Mermaid with No Tail.”

“Dive into this illustrated picture book based on Jessica’s story, where a mermaid with no tail decides she wants to compete in the Mermaid Games. The other mermaids make fun of her for being different. But her adoptive turtle parents are supportive and encouraging, and her shark coach, Phelpsy, teaches her to swim using her arms. The mermaid trains hard, maintains a good attitude, and eventually wins the games,” a description of the book reads.

Long’s own life inspired the story.

Sports Spectrum reported, “Long was born in Russia, abandoned to a Siberian orphanage, then adopted by American parents from Baltimore, Maryland, when she was 13 months old. Due to a condition called fibular hemimelia, Long’s lower legs were amputated before she was 2.”

The swimmer joined the Sports Spectrum Transformed Podcast to discuss the book.

“My dad was helping me hang up pictures and do lights and stuff – this was years ago – he just said, ‘Jess, I have this idea for a children’s book.’ We started talking through it and we came up with this idea that it was my story, ‘The Mermaid with No Tail,’ because I was born without my lower legs,” Long said of the book’s origin.

More than just inspiring her book, she also credits her parents for helping her achieve her goals.

“I think the biggest thing for me that really helped with my success is that my parents never – it was always just what I wanted to do,” she explained. “It was never forced. They never swam. There was no pressure. If I had a bad race, or I was frustrated with a race, it wasn’t ‘What did you do wrong?’ It was, ‘Well, did you have fun?’ I think that really helped and I was always the one determined with my goals.”

Along with her family’s support, Long’s faith has driven her life.

“It didn’t happen overnight; it was three years of showing up to my Bible study, to church, having a community of believers, and again I fought God on everything,” she said on Sports Spectrum’s podcast in 2020. “But there was this moment in June of 2013 that I just felt it on my heart that I didn’t want to question if I was a believer or not. The big thing that I kept saying was, ‘I wanted to give God my whole heart and not just part of me.’”

Since fully trusting God, Long uses her testimony to share the name of Jesus.

“As a little girl, it’s hard to comprehend that God’s going to use you in this big way and that swimming’s eventually going to come into play, and it’s going to be this platform to reach other people,” she said. “I definitely think that’s been one of the coolest things — reaching other people through my story, my testimony.”

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